For the past 15 years or so, I have been using a Nike waffle fleece lined neoprene zip-up for cold weather running. It has been an awesome jacket. After a few thousand trips through the washing machine, it is starting to come apart at the seams. I have been creeping the Nike website like a fiend, looking for a new one since it first started to fall apart last Autumn. Continue reading
Running in the winter can be tricky because of the mixed conditions that often exist. I find this to especially be true when spending time in the Catskills. The routes that I run typically are a mix of paved and unpaved roads. In the winter, depending on when it last snowed, the last plow, if the sun is out, etc., one can encounter everything from snow, to mud, and dry pavement, to solid ice (sometimes all on the same road!). I have some friends who wear the elastic mini crampons in the winter. I think that those would be awesome for a run that is entirely on snow or ice. But when pavement and dirt/mud are also in the mix, I feel like they would probably wear out in a handful of miles. Continue reading
I won’t bore everyone with the backstory for this one. Long and short is that Britt got me a bib for this race as a b-day gift when I was complaining about not having run any fast (flat) courses and as a result having never qualified for Boston. As it turns out, I may just not have it in me, oof.
The race was the Palm Beaches Marathon, in FL. It is conveniently located very proximate to the casa of my MIL. So we crashed at her place and had a nice time palling around with her and her partner all weekend in south FL. The race had a 6 AM gun time. But the logistics were so easy that I was able to avoid a lot of the typical pre-race anxiety that I usually experience.
It was already 70 degrees when we started, and it was about an hour before sunrise. There was a breeze coming off the water, so it actually felt pretty pleasant. But when the sun came up… oh man. I’ll use that as an excuse. But in reality, I put on about 2 lbs in beer weight after the NYC race. Yeahhhhhh, between Thanksgiving and holiday parties, I managed to sloppy up a fair bit. I was also quite casual about my program (i.e. had no program) for running between the NYC race and Palm Beach. At any rate, the flat course was a huge factor. Even though I wasn’t able to get a 3:20 (which is what I would have needed to qualify for Boston), it still ended up being my 3rd or 4th fastest Marathon (even counting the ones I ran when in my 20s), despite the above mention setbacks.
Positive takeaways- #1- First time I have ever worn a 3″ inseam short (notice the massive tan lines). Bought them on a whim when I was picking up some salt tablets. I don’t think that I’ll ever go back to the 5″ in warm weather. #2- Small races are cool. Energy is much different, but the tradeoff is having a low stress environment. It was so rad to see Britt right at the finish line. They also didn’t charge anything to download the race photos!! #4- I guess I don’t really care if I ever get into Boston or not. I just like running, haha.
Number thirteen is done and dusted. It was a very difficult race for me and I’m relieved to have it in the books. I don’t consider myself to be an overly superstitious kind of guy, but for some reason the idea of marathon number 13 was a mental monkey on my back from the day that I registered. I think this was partially because last year went so well and I knew that it would be unlikely to have such a good experience twice in a row.
Training went as well as it ever has. No major injuries or illness. When I started the taper portion of my program, I was feeling like I may actually beat my course PR this year. About a week before the race, when I saw the forecast, my mind changed. I feel like I’m fastest in high 40s/low 50s. It was looking like this race was going to be about 20 degrees hotter than that, plus super humid. Heat is one thing, but humidity is another thing entirely. When sweat can’t evaporate, it doesn’t cool you down.
The morning of the race went very smoothly. I made it to the start village without a hitch and met up with some friends who were starting in my same corral. We were all cautiously optimistic that perhaps the overcast conditions would make the temperature less of a factor. But by the time we lined up on the Verrazzano, the sun was blazing down and it was almost 70 degrees already. From that moment, I knew it was going to be a tough one. I paced the first half of the race with one of my friends from high school, who in amazing marathoner. We were clipping along at about a 7:30 until around mile 15 (right before the Pulaski Bridge), when I had to pull off to fix my shoe (which was tied too tight and causing increasingly sharp pain on the top of my foot). I told my friend not to wait for me.
By the time that I was coming off of the Queensboro, I knew I was going to have to slow down if I was going to finish. The temperature had hit mid 70’s and the air was like soup. I was drenched in sweat, but still overheating. So I just parked it in second gear and slugged it out for the last 10 miles.
It was awesome to see so many friends cheering along the course. I saw Britt and her mom (who flew in from Florida to watch the race, so cool!) cheering in two different spots along the way. My friend Anwar was with them both times. Thanks for the great photos, Anwar! I can truly say that the support of the crowd is really what kept me going for the second half of the race. I have never seen so many people who were walking, collapsing and/or being attended to by paramedics in any race that I have run in the past.
Aaaanyway, I’ve got #14 coming up in a few weeks. Its a flat course in Palm Beach. Gonna try to get a BQ now that I’m old and my qualie time just got 10 minutes easier. Wish me luck!
Fall marathon season is right around the corner. I planned on kind of taking it easy this year– as in, no big races after having such a great experience at last year’s NYC Marathon. Then in June or so, I was offered a bib for this year’s marathon and could not say no. Luckily, I had maintained a pretty decent baseline during the spring, so that I wasn’t starting from square one in August.
My training program started the second week of August, a thirteen week program that I made for myself. I thought it would be cool to do a thirteen weeker, since this will (knock on wood) by my 13th marathon. Similar to years prior, I’m feeling burnt out on training even though I’m only a little over half way there.Continue reading
Last Sunday I ran my 12th marathon. It was a big deal for me, personally, for a number of reasons. It was my first post-injury race. I had family come into town and run it with me. It was NYC’s first big event like this in the post-covid era. I hadn’t run a marathon in 5 years. For the past 14 weeks I have thought about this race every single day. When I was laying in bed Saturday night before the race, I felt so excited to go run. I really put in the time and effort to train for this thing. Even though I still have some lingering congestion from the super-cold that appears to be going around the city right now, I knew that I was recovered enough that it would not be a factor.
This was 50th iteration of the NYC Marathon. But because of covid related travel restrictions for foreign citizens entering the country, international participants were largely absent this year. In an effort to pad the gap, NYRR offered automatic entry to members of all of the local clubs. As a result, my brother-in-law was able to score a bib. My sister actually also got entry, but ended up having to defer because of a stress fracture that she suffered during training. She made the trip out to NYC anyway and joined the cheering crew, along with Britt and our friend Anwar, who provided most of these great photos!
Race day started out awesome. My brother-in-law Jessie and I arrived in the start village nice and early. It was chilly, but not miserably so, especially once the sun came up. I was super fired up by the time the gun went off. My first few miles were way too fast. But I was able to rein it in by the time I hit mile 10 or so. Ultimately energy was not an issue, but pain sure was. starting around mile 16 I started to get a familiar burning/stabbing sensation where my IT band wraps around the outside of my right knee. It got bad enough that I needed to stop and stretch it out a handful of times. It slowed me down a lot, but honestly I’m glad that I didn’t try to just push through it.
My finish time goal was to do 3:45 or better. The last time I did this race was six years ago and I did a 3:43, so it seemed like a reasonable goal. By the time I made it to Central Park I looked at my watch, saw that I was in the low 3:20s and realized that if I really kicked I might be able to get close to 3:35ish. Starting around Mile 25 I gave it all I had, and really kicked hard when I saw the sign saying I was only 800 meters from the finish. I ended up finishing just under 3:36, which I am very pleased about. Not only was it my PR for the course, but it was only about 10 mins off my best marathon time, ever!
One cool thing that the New York Times does after every New York Marathon, is devote an entire section to the marathon, the Monday after the race. It includes the name of each finisher with their finish time and overall place. They also run a handful of photos from the race, including the one below of the runners in the start queue on the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island. Upon closer inspection, I spotted my brother-in-law (highlighted below right). So cool!
I’m so grateful for all of the people who have supported me during my surgery recovery and training process, especially Britt. Sunday was a very special day for me and I will remember it my whole life.
About 15 years ago, a friend turned me onto Mizuno running shoes. They are light, relatively inexpensive, and had the support that I needed for my gait an pronation. They are great shoes. I generally love me some Japanese design. Function-wise, Mizuno was no exception. They have been my faithful go-to running shoe ever since then. For some reason, however, they just keep making them uglier and uglier. From a visual design perspective, the only distinction between my most recent pair of Mizunos and a pair of granny-style mall walkers is the fact that the colorway is not white on white. I know that running is not a fashion show, but I’m running the NY Marathon in a few weeks and I want to wear some good looking kicks for the race. I’m not exactly a young buck anymore, but hey man, I’m certainly not a senior citizen yet either. Until then I’m not trying to give off any grandpa vibes with my footwear. After imagining the horror of opening up the NY Times on Nov. 8th and seeing a photo of myself running down 5th Avenue sporting old-guy kicks, I went on a quest for a non-geriatric looking pair of running shoes to race in.
I had heard good things about the brand ON. I think that they are a pretty good looking shoe and decided to try a pair. They had a nice fit for my foot and seemed okay for running…. except for the fact that the sole design is super prone to rock collecting. Given that I have been running on trails or gravel roads 3-4 times per week, they just weren’t practical. When I wore the ONs, I was forced to stop every half mile or so to remove (some quite sizable) stones lodged in the out sole. They are probably fine for city running, but I’m not going to gamble on wearing them for a marathon without having worn them on at least a few long training runs.
Prevailing public opinion (especially of non-runners) seems to be that Nike is the obvious choice in running shoes. I have had a love/hate relationship with Nike runners since my first pair of Air Pegasus that I wore in high school track. There has always been something not quite right about the way they work on my feet. The past couple of years I have picked up a few pairs of Vapormax, but mostly just for looks. I have never actually run in them. They are not comfortable at all on my feet, even just walking around the city. Summer 2020 I picked up a pair of deeply discounted Nike trail runners that I actually think are great. So when I saw the new Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, I thought I would give them a shot. The visual design is about as non-octogenarian as it gets. In fact, when I first took them out of the box, I was worried that they might be a little much. After my first run in them, I was hooked. They are insanely comfortable and light. I only wore them for three shortish runs before breaking them out on last week’s 20-miler. Didn’t even get a blister. They are honestly the most comfortable shoe that I have ever worn and they seem to give me a literal bounce in my step. All of that said, there are definitely some drawbacks. First: they are insanely expensive as far as running shoes go (roughly double the price of the Mizunos I was using). Another downside is that they appear to be wearing out much faster than the average running shoe. The front section of the out sole is super soft, almost tacky to the touch. This is awesome for gripping the road, but I’m already seeing significant wear after putting only 50ish miles on them. Based on these facts, I’m not sure that I will be able to justify these as a daily runner. I may have to reserve them for training/racing, only. For now, I will enjoy these kicks to the maximum (as well the fresh still-in-the-box pair that I will race in next month), even if it means my theoretical photo in the Times ends up looking like that middle aged guy who is desperately clinging to youth by wearing loud sneakers! 😉
Switching it up a bit this month. It is marathon season again. This is an especially big deal for all of the runners who had qualified and trained for a race last year, only to have it delayed and/or cancelled. I have a sister running Boston this year, and I will be running NY with my other sister and her husband. Being neck deep in training has caused me to spend a lot of my playlist making energy on running mixes. Instead of the usual variety of Jake.News playlist, I’m sharing a running playlist this month. Good luck to everyone racing this autumn!
I have had a few different GPS running watches. One was powered by Tomtom. The rest were all Garmin. This is my favorite, to date. I picked it up last year on Prime day when Amazon had it for like 50% off. The beauty of the Garmin 645 Music, is that it pairs with bluetooth headphones and I can listen to my Spotify playlists without having to bring a phone with me. This is also the first Garmin that I have owned with a built in heart monitor. Heart rate has been a fun new metric to track. The watch has all of the regular smart watch functions as well for those who want to get alerts on their watch, count steps, etc..
As far as the GPS system is concerned, it works the best of any that I’ve owned. When I have GLONASS enabled (this allows it to talk to the Russian satellites as well the GPS satellites), I rarely have to wait more than a couple of seconds for the GPS to link up when I start an activity. I use it predominantly for running. But when I was recovering from surgery I used it on the bike quite a bit. It has also been fun to wear on some hikes that we have done here in the Catskills. The only drawback is that the battery life is not great compared to other models I’ve used. But I don’t mind charging every couple of days, so whatev. It is an awesome device that I have really enjoyed using.
For the more punctilious readers of Jake.news, it is probably apparent from the photo above that I was not able to achieve my 2019 goal of running 1000 miles. No, indeed I fell short by exactly 181.3 miles. For those who perused this update, the injury that I mentioned ended up being a core muscle injury coupled with bi-lateral inguinal hernias. So, yeah, it took more than an little PT to fix that problem. I opted for a surgical repair, which occurred mid-December (a/k/a six days ago). I’m very glad to be on the other side of that event, and on the way to recovery. I still won’t be able to run for a while. But by the time the weather warms up, if all else goes according to plan, I should be able to start logging some easy miles again. I have guaranteed entry to the upcoming NY Marathon in November. I’m told that it should be a possibility. So that’s what I’ll be working toward … from scratch. Happy New Year!